The San Francisco Bay area consists of a peninsula that juts out into the cold Pacific Ocean. Off the coast, the shelf drops precipitously, causing an upwelling effect that constantly causes morning fog over parts of the peninsula and Marin County. There are two mountain ridges and in between, faults lie in the valleys that are perpetually creating friction as the plates move below. All the mountains are geologically young and, therefore, have nice jagged knifelike points to their precipices. Redwood trees grow in groves and change the temperature in the immediate area. In fact, there are so many microclimates that exist in this region that one can experience as much as a 50 degree temperature difference between Vacaville and the city.
Because the temperatures are so diverse and there are many different land elevations covered with differing vegetation, this area is robust with wildlife. Mountains lions lurk in the grasses and by the rivers. They are incredibly elusive and remain well hidden but they are occasionally spotted. Creek beds are their preferred corridor. So when I hear of a few pets missing I look for the nearest creek as my source. I have never seen a mountain lion in this area, although I once heard one in the distance over a nearby ridge. Bobcats, on the other hand, can be seen quite frequently. This is the best place in the country to view bobcats in the wild. In fact, most of the coast of California is the ideal region to view these cats.
Coyotes have made a real recovery in this area in the last ten years. There has been increased competition between the apex predators in this region- coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions (mostly juvenile). The lion numbers have increased, but the coyote populations have surged and this, together with human interference, has caused a decline in the bobcat population. I also speculate that bobcats have learned to behave differently in the wake of the increase in populations of their competitors. As a result, they could become more habituated to nocturnal settings for hunting and general movement. It used to be that all I had to do was go to either Ararstradero Preserve or Foothills Park in Palo Alto to see three bobcats within several square miles radius and now I have to go to Point Reyes or Pinnacles to easily find one.
The Bay Area has it all: mountains, ocean, Islands,lakes and rivers, old growth forest, valleys, great climate. Basically, all you could ask for.
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